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A Reportback From the Class Struggle Anarchist Conference

category north america / mexico | anarchist movement | review author Sunday November 01, 2009 17:12author by Dead End - WSA Report this post to the editors

The Class Struggle Anarchist Conference (CSAC) is an event for pro-formal organization anarchists who believe in class struggle, involvement in mass movements, and that revolution is only possible coming from the diverse working people of the world--not an isolated or select minority of radicals. It is an invite-only conference and this year's was the second annual gathering of this sort in North America. The sponsoring organizations were Buffalo Class Action, Common Action (Pacific Northwest), Common Cause (Ontario), Four Star Anarchist Organization (Chicago), Miami Autonomy and Solidarity, Michigan-Minnesota Group, Northeast Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC), Solidarity and Defense (Detroit/Lansing), and the Workers Solidarity Alliance (WSA). This is my personal account of the weekend.

My arrival in Detroit preceded the start of the conference by one day. It was seemingly unexpected, but Solidarity & Defense folks responded well. One S & D comrade gave me a nearly 3 hour tour of the city, telling me various stories of working class agitation, whether it involved socialists, fascists, unions, or black nationalists. After a 15 hour bus trip and a combination of these tales, the site of hundreds of burnt out, abandoned buildings and devastated infrastructure was somewhat overwhelming for me. While definitely depressing, there's a feeling one gets from Detroit of potential and history that's inspiring, as well..

On Friday, I was mostly a passive observer while the local organizers of the conference found housing and made various plans for airport and bus station pickups. Wish I could have helped, but as an out of towner with no vehicle, there wasn't much I could do.

People were slowly and steadily coming into town and we met at a local bar that once served as the headquarters for the intense 1995 newspaper strikes. Over too many whiskeys on my part, I finally met folks that, until then, had only been faceless email addresses, browser crashing myspace profiles or impersonal Facebook accounts.

Although I woke up on Saturday suffering from a cold, a hacking cigarette cough and a general hangover, remembering the panels and workshops ahead, as well as unsafe amounts of black coffee, re-energized me. Here's some summaries of the what I attended.

Our Anarchisms

This was the opening panel and consisted of short overviews of the history of the participating organizations. While a decent thing for people unfamiliar, I would have liked to have seen a more theoretical or tactical explanation of these groups. Time probably would have constrained this. Hearing “Andrew Flood is the Johnny Appleseed of North American anarchism” made me laugh, though...

Worker Centers

Began with excellent explanation of what a workers' center could be and how it can prefigure the goals of anarchists and libertarian socialists. It is true that, in this country, the concept is one that does not have one, solid definition and because of this, there is unlimited potential.

Organizer's experiences with the newly formed Lansing Workers Center, Centro Obrero in Detroit and direct action casework in Seattle were recalled and analyzed in a critical way by the four members of the panel.

Direct action casework was referred to as the class struggle anarchist's Food Not Bombs, and I would have to agree with this. This model, while having problems of its own, doesn't take a whole lot of resources besides having a telephone number and people willing to go and confront bosses and landlords with those having grievances. The model could definitely be tweaked to fit the purpose of whatever group of people decide to do it as well, just like FNB differs in its aims and purposes from city to city (and within cities?).

Intersectional Class Struggle Anarchism

Had a creeping feeling that this was going to be a point of contention and bitter disputes, but it went well. Knowing marginally what the two panelists meant by the title, I felt already in agreement, but they provided more. They provided a theoretical framework and background for this conception, where it came from, how some have misused it, its potentials and limits in a way I was only slightly familiar with previously.

While most likely directed or geared towards those who are or deal with class reductionists, it was personally valuable as a way to deal with gender, sexuality and race reductionists. That is something I deal with far more.

Anarchists In The Workplace

This consisted of folks involved with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) or traditional trade unions and their experiences with agitating and organizing. One account that I enjoyed was a Wobbly describing how some of their co-workers became acquainted with anarchism to the point where they either acknowledged its worth or eventually became anarchists themselves. It is often underestimated how these types of day-to-day interactions lead people to become radicalized.

There were two important issues raised, while not having too much discussion around them, need to be explored if we are serious about a revolutionary movement.

What is the role, if any, of anarchists in relation to the AFL-CIO/Change to Win unions? While some of the participating organizations have position papers and such about this question, some do not. And regardless of a paper, what is a concrete strategy to implement these positions?

Is it time to seriously start a dialogue about where anarchists should work? While I realize this isn't something that everyone can choose, for some it is. Where are areas where we can have the most influence, success and spread our ideas? These questions tie in to our relations with the unions as well, as they would often determine the character of our struggles.

Regroupment

This has been a topic of debate going on several months now. As the level of duel members, increasing cooperation and closer outlooks have manifested, so has the idea for a national or continental body of class struggle anarchists. The three people on the panel gave their own or their group's views on the question.

Some of the pros for regroupment given were a larger skillbase, no replication of isolated work, increased financial resources, improved ability for “social insertion”, more political development and better to reach the outside world with.

Among the cons stated were the possibility of an energy drain for the decision making process if delegate structure isn't used, political differences arising, and if the process is done quickly, it may fall apart just as quick.

In the end, it seemed most of everyone is for regroupment, there are just disagreements on the process and timetable of it.

Nature Of the Period & The Task Ahead

I wished this had been given more time and been more focused. Unfortunately, it was cut short and people were also generally tired because of the previous night's social gathering.

The first panelist stated that in Latin America and Europe, many groups frequently assess the situation and context they find themselves in. This helps them decide what work they will do and how they will do it. With the economic crisis, demobilization of what pathetically passes as the left following Obama's election, and the rise of a right-wing populist movement, we find ourselves in a very particular situation. One in which American anarchists have not done a good job in assessing.

The second panelist mentioned that during The Great Depression, stabilization in the markets occurred before a movement with revolutionary potential sprung up. Taking anarchists to task for our lackluster response to the crisis, he suggests that people are going to look for answers and they will or are turning to the Democratic Party, social democracy, religion, black nationalism, neofascism and Leninism for them.

Conclusion

Eventually, I had to leave and missed the informal discussion as the conference came to a close. Leaving energized, I look forward to any projects, campaigns, discussion or work that may come out of CSAC-II and immensely enjoyed the company of the individuals attending, even if it required two 15 hour bus trips on my part...

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textPress Advisory- N.Y. City Anarchist Bookfair Apr 16, 2016 06:42 Mon 04 Jan by Edward Saroyan 1 comments

NYC ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR - 10th anniversary
What: 2016 Annual NYC Anarchist BookFair
Where: Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, in Manhattan
When: Book Fair—Sat., April 16, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Art Festival—Fri., April 15, 7 p.m. - 5 a.m.
Film Festival—Sat., April 16, 7 p.m. - 1 a.m.

pso.jpg imagePrairie Struggle is Dead and the Struggle Continues 15:47 Wed 03 Jun by Prairie Struggle Organization 1 comments

As much as this pains those who have participated in the anarchist communist experience between 2011 and 2014 in the Canadian prairies, today, Prairie Struggle announces its official secession and subsequent disbandment. To this day, Prairie Struggle was the only specific platformist organization in the Canadians prairies. Though some may recall the existence of an anarchist communist group in Regina affiliated to the ACF (Anarchist Communist Federation of North America) in the 80s, organized anarchism in the prairies has had many difficulties, some of which the Prairie Struggle Project has failed to overcome. Despite its downfall, Prairie Struggle, for one last time, offers a look into the organization, its failures and its small victories.

textCommuniqué of the Mexican Anarchist Black Cross following the declarations of the FD Govt. 00:15 Wed 19 Dec by Mexico ABC 0 comments

In recent days, following the events of the demonstrations on December 1st for the presidential inauguration of Enrique Peña Nieto, during which the police forces, both of the Federal [national] and Federal District [Mexico City] forces, brutally repressed demonstrators - officials of the Federal District government, amongst whom were the head of government of the FD and the capital's attorney, have made statements declaring that those responsible for the clashes are anarchist groups.[Castellano] [Français] [Deutsch]

textNew Atlanta Anarchist Blog 13:04 Tue 13 Nov by sweezox 0 comments

Announcing the Heat Index blog at www.heatindexatl.info

textWorkers Solidarity Alliance Holds 2012 Continental Conference 01:42 Thu 23 Aug by sabotage 0 comments

A post-conference report from the Workers Solidarity Alliance's 2012 Gathering in St. Louis MO

pso.jpg imageThe creation of Prairie Struggle Organization, its politics and its goals 18:00 Tue 05 Jun by Prairie Struggle Organization 0 comments

In the last 5 months, some anarchists from Regina have been engaged in the difficult process of creating a revolutionary anarchist organization and debating its political influences. As a result of these meetings and debates, we are proud to finally announce the existence of Prairie Struggle Organization based in Regina. To hopefully start a dialogue with anarchists in the west of Canada and beyond, we feel it important to let you know why anarchist politics in Regina are taking this direction.

textM1 Mayday Statement 23:54 Mon 30 Apr by Chris Alexander 0 comments

Since May 1, 2006 we have seen a slow opening up of mass struggles on a scale not seen in recent memory, amplified by the silent economic crash in 2008. From the massive day without an immigrant to the historic Arab Spring; the Wisconsin workers uprising to the prisoners strikes in Georgia and California; Occupy Wall Street to the rallies for Justice for Trayvon Martin; General strikes of students in Chile and Quebec and of workers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. People committed to real change cannot help but feel the wind in our sails. People are rising and refusing, struggles are igniting, common ground is revealing itself, we are beginning to feel and take back our power, everywhere.

Despite the rise of new fighting forces, pain is growing not decreasing. Symbolic changes at the peak of empire—codename Obama—have only served to further entrench the direction of decline, with Democrats bringing the stick when the Republicans aren’t there to make their bad cop look good. Deportations have increased, prisons are overflowing, the local face of a global war given new legitimacy, while organized racist violence dares to seize an ever greater public stage. Cutbacks and the destruction of public safety nets pay for corporate welfare and bankers’ bailouts. Ecological destruction continues apace: tar sands mining, fracking, nuclear power, and the daily grind of a system that cannot long coexist with dignified human life on earth.

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The 6th Annual NYC Anarchist Book Fair will be held on Saturday April 14th, 2012 @ Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, New York City with workshops continuing through April 15th

Cover of Northeastern Anarchist #15 imageNortheastern Anarchist #15 available now! 01:54 Fri 06 May by Flint 0 comments

This issue is on Ecology, Industry, Crisis and Alternatives: bell hooks on Intersectionalism, Transit Organizing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City; Indoor Fish Farms, Solar Power, Green Building, "The Vegetarian Myth", Ecological & Economic Crisis, and more...

1mayoe.jpg imageMayday Greetings from the First of May Anarchist Alliance 01:11 Tue 03 May by C. Alexander 0 comments

Mayday is not only a time to remember the sacrifices of so many before us who fought against all authority – capitalism and the state, patriarchy and white supremacy, empire and ecocide – but also a time to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of our movements today. In recent months the world has again been changed by the actions of masses of ordinary people.

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This is a companion to Social Anarchism and Organisation by the Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro. All of the references are to only that text which has become essential reading for social anarchists today. This article summarizes, paraphrases and interprets the original. It is meant to be an addition to the English language discourse on especifismo and social anarchism generally, as well as the FARJ text in particular. There is a link to an audio version with a slideshow presentation at the end.

imageAre Anarchists Socialists? Feb 18 by Wayne Price 4 comments

**Many people regard anarchism and socialism as contradictory programs. This is based on the conception of "socialism" as state ownership of the economy. Yet historically, anarchists have regarded this program as "state socialism" or "authoritarian socialism." They have rejected such views in favor of "anarchist-socialism" or "libertarian socialism." This concept of anarchism as a variety of socialism remains important today in opposition to pro-capitalist "libertarianism" and to "democratic socialism"--that is, reformist state socialism.**

imageSome of My Past Political Mistakes Apr 15 by Wayne Price 2 comments

In the 1980s I participated in a "dialogue" about anarchism and Marxism. Re-reading my writing now, when I am a revolutionary anarchist, I think that much of what I wrote then was wrong--with one exception. I went over certain key issues, such as the strengths and weaknesses of Marxism, the state, the revolutionary party, election participation, and national liberation--topics which are still important for anarchists and other radicals to consider and debate.

textThe Yoke of Washington and Wall Street Jan 21 by David Van Deusen 0 comments

What follows is an excerpt from the new book On Anarchism: Dispatches From The People’s Republic of Vermont. Dispatches contains works written by David Van Deusen, and in some cases with the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective. Jeff Jones of the Weather Underground wrote the forward. This excerpt is from Neither Washington Nor Stowe: A Libertarian Socialist Manifesto. the excerpt is the full table of contents for Dispatches.

textThe Road Not Taken Jul 06 by David Van Deusen/Lady/Black Heart Anarchist Collective 0 comments

"The Road Not Taken" is a historic proposal that was provided to the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives (FRAC) from the Black Heart Anarchist Collective-Columbus Ohio in 2001. Previous to now this proposal was treated as an internal FRAC document and has never been made available online or to the public. Ultimately the proposal was not adopted by FRAC. It is being provided now as it shows some of the internal debate and discussions that were taking place in the anarchist movement shortly after The Battle of Seattle. The document also highlights one road that aspects of the anarchist movement viewed as open to it, even if this road was never taken. Now that we are struggling against an increasing fascist tendency in the U.S. and beyond [2017], we as a movement need to explore those crossroads that post-Seattle presented us, and re-evaluate the strategic and tactical directions the movement took then in order for us in the present to build a stronger more effective movement today.

This proposal was provided to the still forming Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives (Great Lakes Region-Midwest) in December, 2001 by the Black Heart Anarchist Collective (Columbus, Ohio). It was not adopted by the federation. It was also sent to the Northeast Federation of Anarcho Communists. David Van Deusen wrote this document with Lady. The proposal was adopted as a position by the Black Heart Anarchist Collective as a whole, whose members also had input into the content. The Black Heart Anarchist Collective was an offshoot of Anti-Racist Action-Columbus. The collective (which included Van Deusen, Lady, Dustin, Noah, and others) formed for the primary purpose of engaging in discussions with other regional anarchist collectives about forming the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives. The Black Heart Anarchist Collective were participants in a number of meetings leading up to the creation of the federation. However, prior to the official formation of the federation Van Deusen & Lady moved back to Vermont, the collective disbanded, and was never an official member collective of the federation. Van Deusen (who co-founded The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective) was in Ohio, and a member of Anti-Racist Action, for some time in 2001-2002. The Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives folded in 2005.

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textPress Advisory- N.Y. City Anarchist Bookfair Apr 16, 2016 Jan 04 NYC Anarchist Bookfair Collective 1 comments

NYC ANARCHIST BOOKFAIR - 10th anniversary
What: 2016 Annual NYC Anarchist BookFair
Where: Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, in Manhattan
When: Book Fair—Sat., April 16, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Art Festival—Fri., April 15, 7 p.m. - 5 a.m.
Film Festival—Sat., April 16, 7 p.m. - 1 a.m.

imagePrairie Struggle is Dead and the Struggle Continues Jun 03 Regina Collective 1 comments

As much as this pains those who have participated in the anarchist communist experience between 2011 and 2014 in the Canadian prairies, today, Prairie Struggle announces its official secession and subsequent disbandment. To this day, Prairie Struggle was the only specific platformist organization in the Canadians prairies. Though some may recall the existence of an anarchist communist group in Regina affiliated to the ACF (Anarchist Communist Federation of North America) in the 80s, organized anarchism in the prairies has had many difficulties, some of which the Prairie Struggle Project has failed to overcome. Despite its downfall, Prairie Struggle, for one last time, offers a look into the organization, its failures and its small victories.

textNew Atlanta Anarchist Blog Nov 13 Heat Index 0 comments

Announcing the Heat Index blog at www.heatindexatl.info

textWorkers Solidarity Alliance Holds 2012 Continental Conference Aug 23 Workers Solidarity Alliance 0 comments

A post-conference report from the Workers Solidarity Alliance's 2012 Gathering in St. Louis MO

textM1 Mayday Statement Apr 30 First of May Anarchist Alliance 0 comments

Since May 1, 2006 we have seen a slow opening up of mass struggles on a scale not seen in recent memory, amplified by the silent economic crash in 2008. From the massive day without an immigrant to the historic Arab Spring; the Wisconsin workers uprising to the prisoners strikes in Georgia and California; Occupy Wall Street to the rallies for Justice for Trayvon Martin; General strikes of students in Chile and Quebec and of workers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. People committed to real change cannot help but feel the wind in our sails. People are rising and refusing, struggles are igniting, common ground is revealing itself, we are beginning to feel and take back our power, everywhere.

Despite the rise of new fighting forces, pain is growing not decreasing. Symbolic changes at the peak of empire—codename Obama—have only served to further entrench the direction of decline, with Democrats bringing the stick when the Republicans aren’t there to make their bad cop look good. Deportations have increased, prisons are overflowing, the local face of a global war given new legitimacy, while organized racist violence dares to seize an ever greater public stage. Cutbacks and the destruction of public safety nets pay for corporate welfare and bankers’ bailouts. Ecological destruction continues apace: tar sands mining, fracking, nuclear power, and the daily grind of a system that cannot long coexist with dignified human life on earth.

more >>
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